We’re now three weeks from the day that will set the agenda for our country, state and city going into the next decade.
It can be difficult to tear our attention away from the spectacle that our presidential election has become, but many of the measures on our ballot in November will have tangible repercussions in the San Fernando Valley for years to come. The Valley Industry and Commerce Association, or VICA, has spent the last year reviewing every ballot measure that will affect the Valley, and has taken positions on 17 state, county and city measures.
Los Angeles is facing literal gridlock each and every day, and our transit system, especially in the Valley, is simply inadequate for a modern city. Measure M creates a plan to build an ambitious series of transit projects which have been carefully planned over years of engagement with experts and stakeholders. As a Valley resident, I believe this is the single most critical measure on our ballot, and we must mobilize every Los Angeles voter to understand the effect that this measure will have on our, our children’s and our grandchildren’s lives.
Some of the projects, such as improving Metro’s Orange Line, will be completed within a few years. Others, such as building a transit line through the Sepulveda Pass, will take longer and transform the region. The time to invest in these projects is now.
Other measures are not so positive, and some, such as Measure JJJ, will actively damage our city. Measure JJJ will make homes in Los Angeles even more expensive, as if our employees and families are not already struggling to cope with rising housing costs. Proponents will tell you it will increase the supply of subsidized “affordable” housing, and will guarantee construction workers union-levels of pay. But they fail to explain who will pay the costs. Housing is expensive in Los Angeles because there isn’t enough of it, and we can’t build it quickly enough to house everyone who chooses to live here. We can’t stop people living in Los Angeles, and nor do we want to. Making housing even more expensive and difficult to build will hit those least able to afford it hardest.
For all Angelinos, Burbank’s Measure B is one to support. Measure B will allow construction of a replacement passenger terminal at the Burbank-Hollywood Airport. The existing terminal is too close to the runway and doesn’t comply with current seismic or Federal Aviation Administration regulations. The new terminal will have the same number of gates, but it will be more modern, spacious and pleasant to travel though. The airport is an economic driver in the Valley and Measure B will ensure its successful future.
Big, critical infrastructure projects will be blocked under Prop 53, which will remove local control on large bond measures. Under this measure, bond measures will require a statewide referendum, which means that voters in other parts of the state can reject projects which Valley residents need. Prop 53 will take our state backwards and erode voter control over local projects.
VICA opposes Measure A, which will levy a 1.5 cent per-square-foot tax on properties at a time when there are much more urgent priorities. Prop 51, Measure CC and Measure HHH are bond measures to pay for schools, Los Angeles Community College facilities and supportive housing for homeless people. VICA supports all of these, as education and homelessness are issues which will affect business now and in the future.
Two ballot measures on plastic bags will confuse voters: Prop 67 will uphold the ban on plastic bags, a positive step for the environment, while Prop 65 was placed on the ballot to confuse voters by asking them to support an effective tax on grocers which will cost more to administer than it will raise in revenue.
I would urge you to visit VICA’s website at vica.com to read more about all of our positions on ballot measures. The choices we make in November are too important for the Valley to overlook.
Stuart Waldman is president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a Sherman Oaks-based business advocacy organization that represents L.A. County employers at the local, state and federal levels of government.